Threshold Galway has reported a 43 per cent increase in the number of queries related to landlords withholding deposits from renters.
The national housing charity received the complaints of 196 renters in Galway who did not get their deposit back between 2019 and 2020. This is an increase of 43 per cent from the previous year.
Data provided by Threshold also showed that more than half of the people that had this problem were in single-person households.
Karina Timothy, Western Regional Manager at Threshold, pointed out that the deposit is often the equivalent to two months’ rent. For a lot of people this amount of money makes the difference between moving to a new house and being homeless.
“We estimate that private landlords in Ireland are holding at least €250,000,000 in deposits, an extraordinary sum, largely belonging to people on modest or moderate incomes,” she said.
For this reason, Threshold has called for the introduction of a deposit protection scheme, which means that the rental deposits could be held by a third party instead of private landlords. Threshold explains that this would be helpful in reducing “the widespread non-return of deposits to tenants leaving rental properties”.
A similar scheme was already promised in 2011 by the Government. However, it has never been implemented.
CEO of Threshold, John-Mark McCafferty, offered different solutions to this problem: “Allowing an independent third party such as the RTB to hold deposits would ensure that many of these disputes are resolved easily. Another option that could be considered is the introduction of a ‘rental deposit passport’ that a tenant could produce as they move from one tenancy to another, as proof and a guarantee that the return of their deposit is pending. There are already varying types of deposit protection schemes in place in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales – Ireland is falling behind in this regard.”
“Ultimately a system must be put in place to better protect private rental deposits. We are calling on the Minister for Housing to honor the promise made ten years ago in the 2011 Program for Government,” he added.
The queries reported by Threshold came from Galway city and County Galway represent 14 per cent of the national total.